As the assigned restaurant-selector of his travel group, all Suraj Samaranayake wanted to do was find the best places to chow down in San Francisco. He tried using popular review apps like Yelp, Zagat and Urbanspoon, but came up empty-handed.
So he turned to a more trusted source – his Bay Area friend.
“All his suggestions ended up being great because we share similar tastes, like similar ambiences, and I trust his opinion,” says Samaranayke. “I realized that there is no app that translates these food and drink conversations that we have with our friends and decided to create Foxtrot.”
And thus the beginning of Foxtrot, a new food-finding mobile app built in Seattle that is going against the grain of typical 5-star recommendation sites that Samaranayke calls “fundamentally flawed.”
While Yelp and others give recommendations based on an average community rating, Foxtrot puts more emphasis on the reviewer and less on the overall “score” of a restaurant or food.
Samaranayke compares it to Quora, the question-and-answer website founded three years ago. Quora puts more value on the author rather than the quantity of responses, and Foxtrot has a similar model.
“Everyone has different tastes and likes different ambiances when they go out to eat and drink. Most apps out there try to combat against that and filter out the extremes as noise,” he explains. “Foxtrot does the opposite; it embraces people’s differences. We don’t average out people’s opinons or anything like that. We give recommendations by matching you to someone who is most similar to you, either by your social graph or by your tastes.”
Foxtrot is built around “best of” lists that people create for different categories. The app compares local businesses and users can filter by friends or influentials.
The company was founded in August and has four employees, three of which are ex-Microsofties. Samaranayke says that Foxtrot plans to make money by featuring businesses in search results, but that strategy is “not part of our short–term plan.”
The app is available for iPhones with an Android version in the works.